The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Libyan Fallout Spreads to Niger

We’ve repeatedly noted that the humanitarian intervention in Libya has had perverse consequences far beyond Libya’s borders—most pronouncedly in Mali. Mali’s unraveling in turn has dire consequences for its neighbors. A map is worth a thousand words:

Niger is caught in a pincer between the Islamist Tuareg rebels to its north and west and the savage Boko Haram to its south, and could become a major terrorist transit route between Nigeria and Mali. The Washington Post has a useful article on the situation:

Such concerns are increasingly visible in Diffa and other towns nestled along Niger’s long border with Mali and northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram, another Islamist militia with suspected links to al-Qaeda, has intensified attacks this year. In such places, local officials and U.N. workers say, fundamentalist Islam is slowly replacing Sufism, a more open, mystical brand of the faith that has been practiced here for centuries.

Boko Haram is trying to spread its hard-line ideology and violent aspirations in these border towns, and its fighters are using Niger as a gateway to join up with the Islamists in northern Mali, U.N. security experts and local officials say. Diffa, in particular, is about 100 miles from Boko Haram’s main base in Nigeria and is known as a hideout for the militia’s leaders and other members escaping authorities in Nigeria.

And there are other dimensions beyond the fear of a massive international terrorist safe haven springing up in western Africa. Nigeria is one of the biggest oil exporters to the United States, and Niger is one of the largest exporters of uranium in the world. The West has very concrete material interests in the region. Add to that the brutal repression and murder of both moderate Sufis and Christians by the Islamist radicals and you start to get a sense of just how thoroughly the law of unintended consequences is mocking our Libya adventure.

The article is worth reading in full.

Published on August 17, 2012 3:22 pm
  • http://inthisdimension.com alex scipio

    Once again the idustrialized world must decide – and will, sooner or later, like it or not – whether the costs to the entire globe of POLITICAL islam are worth absorbing.

    These costs, arguably hundreds of billions of dollars / year to contain and clean-up after islamism, are monies far better spent on modernizing, educating and providing infrastructure to the developing world.

    Political islam offers only death, destruction and a return to the pre-literate, pre-modern 7th Century Arab lifestyle.

    The last 10+ years resemble nothing so much as The Gathering Strom. We have the ability to prevent the enormous costs we incurred last time when we ignored the gathering and had to then weather the storm. Intelligent, mature leadership would recognize that these costs will be greater now – and that no valid reason exists to weather a storm we can prevent simply by ceasing efforts to contain political islam, and undertake efforts to destroy it.

    The world deserves better than continually to be violently confronted with a death-worshiping cult that refuses to educate its peoples or modernize its cities, exports only violent death and destruction, and demands a return to a pre-literate world.

  • http://bkraxberger.wordpress.com/ Brennan Kraxberger

    Boko Haram has certainly surprised many Nigeria watchers with its endurance. It has now been three years since the group began its campaign of terror. That said, their activities don’t seem to be affecting the main oil producing regions much, and it is not clear that they have a large following in northern Nigeria. In Mali, there is some indication that the Islamists controlling the North are beginning to realize their weaknesses, in terms of lack of popular legitimacy.

    Niger will likely suffer more destabilization in the near future, but I’m not sure that the driving forces of that instability have long-term staying power.

  • Corlyss

    Just like our meddling forced the European colonial powers to abandon their African colonies to no good, we present said former colonies with another “opportunity to excel.”